A Juneteenth prayer from Bishop Coadjutor Matthew Heyd

Juneteenth has been a federal holiday for only the past two years, and unofficially commemorated for much longer. On this day in 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived in the city of Galveston, Texas to inform the country’s last enslaved people that they had been freed under the Emancipation Proclamation. Bishop Coadjutor Matthew Heyd shared a prayer for Juneteenth today in his Monday Morning Notes, a weekly email sent to clergy, wardens, Standing Committee, Trustees, Council, Deans, and diocesan staff.

“This prayer comes from a 2021 liturgy at Grace Cathedral for Juneteenth, the celebration of the 1865 emancipation of enslaved Black Americans.  It’s a new prayer that draws from scripture and the Book of Common Prayer. 

As a whole Church we’ve begun telling our history of racism and our commitment to racial healing.  Our commitments to justice shape our prayers. These prayers will deepen our experience of a living and loving God. As Howard Thurman wrote, this experience of God also calls us to action.”:

Prayer for Juneteenth

Almighty God,

you rescued your people

from slavery in Egypt,

and throughout the ages

you have never failed

to hear the cries of the captives;

We remember before you

our sisters and brothers

in Galveston, Texas

who on this day

received the glad tidings

of their emancipation;

Forgive us

for the many grave sins

that delayed that liberating word;

Anoint us

with your Spirit

to bring good news to the poor,

to proclaim release to the captives and

recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free, and

to proclaim the year of your favor;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

— Diocese of California UBE prayer

from Grace Cathedral liturgy

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